Getting a navel piercing, especially if it is your first piercing, requires some thought and care. By selecting the best piercer and placement for your new piercing, and taking proper care of it, you will ensure that it looks attractive for life (or until you decide to take it out).
Decide whether or not a navel piercing is for you. You should be aware that a navel piercing is considered a surface piercing, which means that it can take up to nine months to fully heal, and it may be prone to infection if indifferently cared for. For the first few weeks, you will need to be especially careful around the piercing, staying out of the water and avoiding contact with body fluids and other potential sources of infection. If you want a navel piercing, prepare to commit to several months of care; if the piercing does become infected, you will still need to heal it before you can remove it. Furthermore, you may want to check with dress codes at your work or school to ensure that you will not be penalized for your new piercing.
Find a piercer. If you happen to live in an urban area, you probably have an assortment of piercers to choose from. If you don't, you may need to be willing to travel. A good piercer maintains a clean shop, has a pleasant staff, and is happy to answer any questions you have about the piercing procedure and required aftercare. Look for an autoclave for cleaning piercing supplies, along with sealed, autoclaved tools in the piercing room. The Association of Professional Piercers (APP) or a similar trade organization can be a good resource to use to find piercers in your area, and you can also take advantage of online reviews to find reputable piercers in your area.
Make an appointment. Many piercers offer same-day appointments, but it doesn't hurt to make an appointment anyway. To prepare for your piercing, make sure to eat a light meal beforehand, and arrive early to fill out any required paperwork and to select your starter jewelry, which will be used for the piercing and left in until the piercing heals.
Take the time to consult with the piercer about placement. Everyone's navel is slightly different, and the placement of your piercing may need to be varied to account for your anatomy. You can choose to pierce through the bottom or top of your navel, or you can opt for multiple piercings around your navel. If your piercer does not think you are a good candidate for a belly button piercing, he or she will be sure to recommend other options; if you think outside the box during your consultation, you could end up with a striking and unusual twist on the classic belly button piercing. After you have agreed on placement, check the marking dots in a mirror to make sure that you are happy with them.
Get your piercing! If you haven't been pierced before, or you're nervous, make sure to let the piercer know. He or she will walk you though the process, and make sure that you feel comfortable at all times. Many piercers also allow their clients to bring in a friend, if you want a hand to hold.
During the piercing process, the piercer will confirm the placement with marking dots, sanitize the area, clamp your navel, and insert a needle, threading the jewelry in behind the needle. Once the belly button piercing is in, he or she will close the jewelry, and give you a moment to relax before going over aftercare instructions.
Take care of your piercing. Follow the aftercare directions your piercer gives you, and make sure to get his or her phone number in case you have questions. Your new piercing may be sore for the first few days, so plan on taking a break from heavy work and exercise while you give the piercing a chance to start healing.
Commit to caring for your piercing for life: if you keep it clean, you can avoid infection and keep the piercing in great shape. Aftercare instructions vary, depending on the piercer's experience and preference, but you should plan on:
- Staying out of the water for at least two weeks.
- Washing the belly button piercing with a mild antibacterial soap at least two times a day.
- Soaking your new piercing in a sea salt soak three to five times a day.
- Discharge, redness, and swelling for up to eight weeks, and tenderness for up to nine months and sometimes a year.
If the piercing becomes extremely tender, or the discharge turns thick and yellow to green or smelly, it is a sign that the piercing is infected. You should contact your piercer and seek medical attention. Do not take the piercing out, as this can cause the infection to fester under the skin. The piercing needs to be completely healed before it can be removed.
Change your jewelry. After your piercing is fully healed, you can change the jewelry should you so desire. Piercers often agree to change jewelry for free with purchase, and you can also change it yourself. Some people simply change the beads/ends on their jewelry, which is much easier.
Whether your belly button piercing lasts a few years or a lifetime, be sure to enjoy it!